Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 3

At two o'clock the rain lessened its fury. At half-past two
the obscured moon shone forth; and at three Havill awoke. The
blind had not been pulled down overnight, and the moonlight
streamed into the room, across the bed whereon Dare was
sleeping. He lay on his back, his arms thrown out; and his
well-curved youthful form looked like an unpedestaled Dionysus
in the colourless lunar rays.

Sleep had cleared Havill's mind from the drowsing effects of
the last night's sitting, and he thought of Dare's mysterious
manner in speaking of himself. This lad resembled the
Etruscan youth Tages, in one respect, that of being a boy
with, seemingly, the wisdom of a sage; and the effect of his
presence was now heightened by all those sinister and mystic
attributes which are lent by nocturnal environment. He who in
broad daylight might be but a young chevalier d'industrie was
now an unlimited possibility in social phenomena. Havill
remembered how the lad had pointed to his breast, and said
that his secret was literally kept there. The architect was
too much of a provincial to have quenched the common curiosity
that was part of his nature by the acquired metropolitan
indifference to other people's lives which, in essence more
unworthy even than the former, causes less practical
inconvenience in its exercise.

Dare was breathing profoundly. Instigated as above mentioned,
Havill got out of bed and stood beside the sleeper. After a
moment's pause he gently pulled back the unfastened collar of
Dare's nightshirt and saw a word tattooed in distinct
characters on his breast. Before there was time for Havill to
decipher it Dare moved slightly, as if conscious of
disturbance, and Havill hastened back to bed. Dare bestirred
himself yet more, whereupon Havill breathed heavily, though
keeping an intent glance on the lad through his half-closed
eyes to learn if he had been aware of the investigation.

Dare was certainly conscious of something, for he sat up,
rubbed his eyes, and gazed around the room; then after a few
moments of reflection he drew some article from beneath his
pillow. A blue gleam shone from the object as Dare held it in
the moonlight, and Havill perceived that it was a small

A clammy dew broke out upon the face and body of the architect
when, stepping out of bed with the weapon in his hand, Dare
looked under the bed, behind the curtains, out of the window,
and into a closet, as if convinced that something had
occurred, but in doubt as to what it was. He then came across
to where Havill was lying and still keeping up the appearance
of sleep. Watching him awhile and mistrusting the reality of
this semblance, Dare brought it to the test by holding the
revolver within a few inches of Havill's forehead.

Havill could stand no more. Crystallized with terror, he
said, without however moving more than his lips, in dread of
hasty action on the part of Dare: 'O, good Lord, Dare, Dare,
I have done nothing!'

The youth smiled and lowered the pistol. 'I was only finding
out whether it was you or some burglar who had been playing
tricks upon me. I find it was you.'

'Do put away that thing! It is too ghastly to produce in a
respectable bedroom. Why do you carry it?'

'Cosmopolites always do. Now answer my questions. What were
you up to?' and Dare as he spoke played with the pistol again.

Havill had recovered some coolness. 'You could not use it
upon me,' he said sardonically, watching Dare. 'It would be
risking your neck for too little an object.'

'I did not think you were shrewd enough to see that,' replied
Dare carelessly, as he returned the revolver to its place.
'Well, whether you have outwitted me or no, you will keep the
secret as long as I choose.'

'Why?' said Havill.

'Because I keep your secret of the letter abusing Miss P., and
of the pilfered tracing you carry in your pocket.'

'It is quite true,' said Havill.

They went to bed again. Dare was soon asleep; but Havill did
not attempt to disturb him again. The elder man slept but
fitfully. He was aroused in the morning by a heavy rumbling
and jingling along the highway overlooked by the window, the
front wall of the house being shaken by the reverberation.

'There is no rest for me here,' he said, rising and going to
the window, carefully avoiding the neighbourhood of Mr. Dare.
When Havill had glanced out he returned to dress himself.

'What's that noise?' said Dare, awakened by the same rumble.

'It is the Artillery going away.'

'From where?'

'Markton barracks.'

'Hurrah!' said Dare, jumping up in bed. 'I have been waiting
for that these six weeks.'

Havill did not ask questions as to the meaning of this
unexpected remark.

When they were downstairs Dare's first act was to ring the
bell and ask if his Army and Navy Gazette had arrived.

While the servant was gone Havill cleared his throat and said,
'I am an architect, and I take in the Architect; you are an
architect, and you take in the Army and Navy Gazette.'

'I am not an architect any more than I am a soldier; but I
have taken in the Army and Navy Gazette these many weeks.'

When they were at breakfast the paper came in. Dare hastily
tore it open and glanced at the pages.

'I am going to Markton after breakfast!' he said suddenly,
before looking up; 'we will walk together if you like?'

They walked together as planned, and entered Markton about ten

'I have just to make a call here,' said Dare, when they were
opposite the barrack-entrance on the outskirts of the town,
where wheel-tracks and a regular chain of hoof-marks left by
the departed batteries were imprinted in the gravel between
the open gates. 'I shall not be a moment.' Havill stood
still while his companion entered and asked the commissary in
charge, or somebody representing him, when the new batteries
would arrive to take the place of those which had gone away.
He was informed that it would be about noon.

'Now I am at your service,' said Dare, 'and will help you to
rearrange your design by the new intellectual light we have

They entered Havill's office and set to work. When contrasted
with the tracing from Somerset's plan, Havill's design, which
was not far advanced, revealed all its weaknesses to him.
After seeing Somerset's scheme the bands of Havill's
imagination were loosened: he laid his own previous efforts
aside, got fresh sheets of drawing-paper and drew with vigour.

'I may as well stay and help you,' said Dare. 'I have nothing
to do till twelve o'clock; and not much then.'

So there he remained. At a quarter to twelve children and
idlers began to gather against the railings of Havill's house.
A few minutes past twelve the noise of an arriving host was
heard at the entrance to the town. Thereupon Dare and Havill
went to the window.

The X and Y Batteries of the Z Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery,
were entering Markton, each headed by the major with his
bugler behind him. In a moment they came abreast and passed,
every man in his place; that is to say:

Six shining horses, in pairs, harnessed by rope-traces white
as milk, with a driver on each near horse: two gunners on the
lead-coloured stout-wheeled limber, their carcases jolted to a
jelly for lack of springs: two gunners on the lead-coloured
stout-wheeled gun-carriage, in the same personal condition:
the nine-pounder gun, dipping its heavy head to earth, as if
ashamed of its office in these enlightened times: the
complement of jingling and prancing troopers, riding at the
wheels and elsewhere: six shining horses with their drivers,
and traces white as milk, as before: two more gallant jolted
men, on another jolting limber, and more stout wheels and
lead-coloured paint: two more jolted men on another drooping
gun: more jingling troopers on horseback: again six shining
draught-horses, traces, drivers, gun, gunners, lead paint,
stout wheels and troopers as before.

So each detachment lumbered slowly by, all eyes martially
forward, except when wandering in quest of female beauty.

'He's a fine fellow, is he not?' said Dare, denoting by a nod
a mounted officer, with a sallow, yet handsome face, and black
moustache, who came up on a bay gelding with the men of his

'What is he?' said Havill.

'A captain who lacks advancement.'

'Do you know him?'

'I know him?'

'Yes; do you?'

Dare made no reply; and they watched the captain as he rode
past with his drawn sword in his hand, the sun making a little
sun upon its blade, and upon his brilliantly polished long
boots and bright spurs; also warming his gold cross-belt and
braidings, white gloves, busby with its red bag, and tall
white plume.

Havill seemed to be too indifferent to press his questioning;
and when all the soldiers had passed by, Dare observed to his
companion that he should leave him for a short time, but would
return in the afternoon or next day.

After this he walked up the street in the rear of the
artillery, following them to the barracks. On reaching the
gates he found a crowd of people gathered outside, looking
with admiration at the guns and gunners drawn up within the
enclosure. When the soldiers were dismissed to their quarters
the sightseers dispersed, and Dare went through the gates to
the barrack-yard.

The guns were standing on the green; the soldiers and horses
were scattered about, and the handsome captain whom Dare had
pointed out to Havill was inspecting the buildings in the
company of the quartermaster. Dare made a mental note of
these things, and, apparently changing a previous intention,
went out from the barracks and returned to the town.

Thomas Hardy